Administration prepares another multibillion-dollar aid package for agriculture
The USDA aims to release a new version of its coronavirus relief program for farmers and ranchers in the next couple of weeks, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday, with at least $14 billion available. President Trump has suggested the new program will boost coronavirus spending on producers to $34 billion this year — a record for farm subsidies.
Algae blooms have cost at least $1.1 billion over past decade, says EWG
Potentially toxic algae blooms, which are caused by farm runoff and urban wastewater running into streams and lakes, have cost an estimated $1.1 billion over the past decade in the United States, and that “is almost certainly a significant undercount,” said a report Wednesday by the Environmental Working Group.
U.S. ag exports to China on the rise, but not at ‘phase one’ pace
China is stepping up its purchases of U.S. farm exports, but it will not meet the ambitious sales goals of the “phase one” agreement that de-escalated the Sino-U.S. trade war, said USDA data on Wednesday. In a quarterly forecast, USDA analysts said China, the farm sector’s No. 1 customer before the trade war, will remain locked in third place as an export destination in 2021, behind Canada and Mexico.
TODAY’S QUICK HITS
U.S. to reward fertilizer innovation: The EPA and USDA announced the creation of two awards, one worth $10,000, for fertilizer innovations that maintain or improve crop yields while reducing impacts on the environment. Entries are due this fall, and winners will be announced in late 2021. (EPA)
More time to get SHIPP-shape: The USDA extended to Nov. 20 the deadline to enroll in the Soil Health and Income Protection Program, or SHIPP, which pays an annual rent to landowners who plant perennial cover on up to 50,000 acres in the Midwest’s “prairie pothole” region. (Farm Service Agency)
Too late for lobster?: While the EU agreement to remove an 8 percent tariff on imports of U.S. live lobsters puts the American shellfish on equal footing with Canadian lobsters, it does not assure recovery of EU market share amid a coronavirus-caused downturn in world trade, says analyst Jeffrey Schott. (Peterson Institute for International Economics)
Mystery seed mailings continue: People in at least 11 countries have received unsolicited packages of seeds that appear, for the most part, to originate in China. Agricultural officials worry the seeds could introduce pests or plant diseases. (Food Safety News)
Harvesting ahead of the hurricane: Although growers along the Gulf Coast have been trying to harvest as much of their rice, cotton, and soybean crops as possible before Hurricane Laura reaches land, in some cases, the crops are not yet mature and must be left in the field. (Delta Farm Press)
Lots of mail by House ag panelist: First term Rep. Jim Hagedorn of Minnesota, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, spent more than one-fifth of his taxpayer-funded office budget for this year, $1.4 million, on mass mailings to constituents in January, February, and March. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)